Express & Star

Unai Emery gives important answer on potential Champions League football

Unai Emery finally admitted Villa are contenders for Champions League football after Sunday’s stunning 2-0 win at Arsenal.


Late goals from Leon Bailey and Ollie Watkins saw Villa climb three points clear in fourth place on a weekend when they moved back to the front of the race for guaranteed Champions League football.

Rivals Tottenham were thumped 4-0 at Newcastle on Saturday and after Villa followed it up by winning at his former club, Emery finally conceded defeat in his season-long attempts to play down their top four chances.

Asked if Villa were now Champions League contenders, he replied: “Day 33. OK, 63 points, we could now be contenders. We must be very demanding to keep it.”

Villa became the first team to beat Arsenal in the Premier League in 2024, denting the Gunners’ title aspirations.

Emi Martinez denied Leandro Trossard with a super first half save but Watkins also hit the post, while Youri Tielemans had an effort which struck the bar and post before Bailey broke the deadlock in the 84th minute.

Watkins added the second three minutes later to earn Emery his third win over Arsenal since being sacked in November, 2019.

The Spaniard insisted the victory meant no more than any other, explaining: “To come here is something important for a coach because as a coach it’s very difficult to come here and beat Arsenal.

“After my time here, I came here two times – one with Villarreal and one now.

“My moment here was fantastic as well individually but now everything is for Aston Villa, for me it’s the same three points we go for against Brentford and next week Bournemouth.”